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Sometimes teams can follow a flawed process, by not exchanging enough information and exploring inadequate alternatives, and make erroneous conclusions. Groupthink is one such pitfall of decision-making.
The aim of this article is to explore the role leadership plays in enhancing as well as mitigating groupthink in team decision-making processes. Since most important and consequential decisions affecting organizations are made in groups Neck,as learning and organizational change practitioner, it is important to be conversant of the conditions and symptoms of this bias, and at the same time know how to mitigate them.
Groupthink Groupthink is a concept introduced by Irving Janis to describe extreme consensus seeking tendencies in decision-making groups. In essence, it is a major barrier to attentive information appraisal and processing and inhibits inclusive rationalization.
The importance of this phenomenon and the justification of interest in this matter is that many important political, policy and business decisions are currently made in groups, under high-pressure and time constraints, that could result in disastrous consequences if groupthink creeps in.
Examples of groupthink can be found in historic events such as the U. Thompson, In each of these examples, leadership style played a key role in enhancing groupthink conditions. Ironically, the role of leadership is also pivotal in ensuring that teams escape the potential pitfall of groupthink by adopting certain practices that mitigate groupthink.
Some of these practices have been discussed below. Antecedent Conditions for Groupthink The presence of the following antecedent conditions can lead to groupthink: Symptoms of Groupthink Groupthink can be diagnosed or observed when most or all of the following symptoms are present: Leana has found that leader behavior strongly influences the number of alternative solutions proposed and discussed by groups and the actual final decisions made by them.
Cognitively complex Pitfalls in a leadership role open leaders are more receptive to new information and are thus more flexible about their beliefs than their cognitively closed and simple counterparts Ziv, Leader-Member Relationship Leaders do not treat all the members of the team equally and maintain distinct relationships with different members Thompson, This can lead to ingroups and outgroups being formed within a team, impacting group cohesiveness.
A double-edged sword, group cohesiveness can be affected by leader-member relationships and leaders should be mindful of this fact. Power Motivation Studies have found that group leaders who are high in power motivation foster an atmosphere that is detrimental to group decision-making.
In an experiment conducted on college students, Fodor and Smith discovered that people with low scores on power motivation shared more information with the group and also considered more options before narrowing down on a decision.
Since closed leaders establish their personal views early in the decision-making process, they reduce the discussion of more alternatives, which can also lead to the fallacies of Common information effect and Hidden Profile. Directive and promotional leaders are closed leaders who promote a particular alternative and ignore others, giving rise to groupthink symptoms and more observable defects in the group decision-making process Chen et al.
When such leaders express a preferred solution early in the discussion, groups are far more likely to adopt that solution as the final group choice Leana, Open Leadership It has been found that an effective leader is one who has an open outlook and can don different hats, such as those of a consultant, adviser, and facilitator to meet the requirements of the situation.
Open Leadership Styles Bay of Pigs vs. This is an example of when the same group succumbed to groupthink in one account Bay of Pigs and not in the other Cuban Missile Crisis. A leader has to maintain a healthy atmosphere of divergent thinking that steers the team away from premature convergence Small, In addition to creating an environment of trust and openness, in which team members are encouraged to speak up and critique ideas and opinions without fear of being reprimanded, a leader could make use of the following best practices in order to mitigate groupthink.
Conflict in teams is not always a bad thing, especially task and process conflict For more information refer to Types of conflict. The downside of this is that dissenters are disliked and treated unfairly Greitemeyer et al.
So team leaders should establish procedures to protect these alternative viewpoints Thompson, and protect minority dissenters from backlash and being relegated to outgroup status.
Use the Six Thinking Hats approach: In the early stages of problem solving, it is imperative to explore the solution space, without narrowing down too quickly.
Better training of leaders in the use of experts could be vital to the decision making process Smith, The presence of an expert can reduce the insulation of the group from the outside world.
Team size is positively correlated with groupthink Thompson, Though there is no magic number that may work, by keeping a team lean the leader may encourage its members to speak versus conforming to popular views.
Diversity in groups often facilitates group performance and also reduces group cohesiveness, which in turn increases diverse perspectives Greitmeyer et al. But while diverse groups are good at generating more ideas, overall task performance is higher in homogeneous groups Thompson The leader first creates sub-groups to explore opposing alternatives and then the whole group comes together to debate the options Roberto, Refrain from stating opinion:5 pitfalls of self-service BI Self-service business intelligence offers many benefits, but bringing analytics and reporting closer to business units by bypassing IT can have unintended — and.
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